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Gamin sound card help

243 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Bear907
Ok, so I need my hand held a bit here . . .

I've been building PC's for a lot of years, but never really thought about sound cards much. I had an old Sound Blaster years back, and when it didn't fit into a build, I went with onboard and been doing that since.

I'm mainly a headset wearing gamer. I also listen to a lot of music via a 2.1 Klipsich Pro speaker set up that sounds pretty good to me - all onboard sound. I'm happy enough with the music (but not sure what I'm missing tbh) and am looking at getting more out of games primarily in my new build.

I've read a lot of threads, and frankly am just lost. I see a lot of recomendations of this or that, but I can't figure out what makes something better for games or better for music. I can't help but feel I'm missing an important distinction.

So all that said, I'm looking for any info or links to what makes a card or headset better for gaming over music. If I go gaming, will music suffer, or is anything better then onboard anyway? I also will NOT be using front case audio jacks, so the card needs to support the 2.1 and headphones (figured I'd have to use a y-splitter or something). Budget for card and headphones around $200 total - I'm ok not getting headphones for now.

Please help get me on track.

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There are some really good deals on Creative cards right now.
Personally, I'm a Xonar fan (DX).
The reason I like Xonar is it matches Creative for music quality at a better price,
and fixing driver issues with Xonar's are way easier.
For gaming, an X-Fi Titanium HD will provide great positioning, etc.
If music listening is at least 35% of your headphone usage, then a Xonar card might serve you better.

Much of the gaming/music slant originates from personal taste. Many have found that they like the Xonar cards for music, but others think that the X-Fi HD edges the Asus cards out.

While onboard sound is advancing every year, shelling out $50 for a sound card should get you a pleasant increase in quality (if you chose well). Shelling out more is well worth it to many people, too.
Well, off the top there are certain things to look for in a card.

1) SNR - Signal to Noise Ratio

2) A low THD - Total Harmonic Distortion

3) 24 Bitrate

4) The chipset

5) The quality of components used

6) Solid capacitors.

7) EMI Shielding

8) DAC used.

9) Amp, if any, how many ohms it supports.

I can't really give you any links that teach you these things. You mostly have to Google around.
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thanks for the replies. In someways I'm amazed at how much you need to know for one component of the PC, but on the other hand, I guess it's no different then all the other components I'm already comfortable researching. /shrug
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